GUWAHATI, July 9: Illegal international trade in wildlife and despicable conditions in which wildlife are kept for sale and slaughter in wet markets in India may contribute towards outbreak and spread of zoonotic diseases like Covid19 which has disrupted human activities for more than a year now.
Unregulated illegal markets, commonly termed as “wet markets”, still exist in many parts of Assam and all other states. Many of the “regular markets” which the common people depend on for buying daily needs may also sometime provide opportunities for traders to illegally sell wildlife species.
Therefore, with an aim to sensitize and make masses aware about the illegalities of such markets, an Operation Wet Market was carried out by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Government of India, and which was also supported by Aaranyak. Key markets in Guwahati like the ones at Ganeshguri, Beltola, Bamunimaidan, Paltan Bazar etc., were targeted.
Carrying out such an operation today at Bamunimaidan market, Assistant Director, WCCB, Jawaharlal Baro underlined the need to ensure that no wildlife species is sold or bought in the wet markets. He also mentioned about the purpose of WCCB and how they are working in different parts of country to minimise wildlife crime.
Dr. Jimmy Borah, Senior Manager from Legal and Advocacy Division of Aaranyak, along with Nabajit Barman, Field Officer, WCCB jointly spoke about various kind of wildlife species and their products which are commonly found in the markets of Guwahati and Assam. The market committee and the sellers were informed about the penalties for dealing illegally in any wildlife species.
Importance of transmission of zoonotic diseases from wildlife to humans was also highlighted during the awareness campaign. The audiences were communicated about the species like turtles, pangolins, tockay gecko, monitor lizard, wild fishes, owl, hill myna, parakeets and orchids which were commonly encountered in wet markets.
A leaflet and poster mentioning about these species were widely distributed in the markets to raise awareness. The public in large were quite supportive of the message and also pledged to share information if any such illegal wildlife species was observed in the market in future.
It is believed that through cooperation among agencies like WCCB, NGOs like Aaranyak and municipal cooperation in respective areas, can contribute to success in controlling illegal trade of wildlife species and its products.
It might also be fruitful if such efforts are continued to reduce the risks of future pandemics as well as to conserve the natural heritage resources of our country. This shall not only prevent future zoonotic diseases like the Covid-19 but also ensure efficacious curbing of illegal wildlife trade as per India’s obligation under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
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